Health change for the good

I have recently received a copy of Calderdale Council’s report setting out proposals for ‘Calderdale Local Health Watch’ which is to replace the failing LINKS organisation as the citizens’ watchdog and liaison channel between Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, the Council’s Social Services department and the proposed GP Consortium.

If the proposals outlined in that document are properly implemented I believe they will result in much needed improvement on the current situation and should therefore be supported.

A prime declared objective of Calderdale Healthwatch is to “examine the quality of local health and social care facilities”.

The reason this aim was not previously achieved has been the reluctance of service providers to release the information and statistics required, a fault particularly applicable to the Foundation Trust’s dealings with the Patient and Public Involvement in Health Forum.

The areas in which year on year statistics and other information are essential so any necessary action can be demanded include:

l The number and nature of complaints from members of the public, how many have been upheld and the costs incurred in compensation payments.

l The number of hospitalised patients requiring readmission within 28 days of discharge - a recognised guide to care standards.

l The number an incidence of bed sores arising during hospitalisation or present on admission and the source of the latter group.

l The number and causes of suicide and attempted suicide in Calderdale - an important measure of mental health and social service standards.

l Statistics re hospital and community acquired infections including those contributing to deaths.

l Information re the time between a hospital appointment being requested and the patient seeing a consultant. The incidence of waits over thirty minutes between appointment time and seeing a consultant.

If Calderdale Healthwatch is to be successful I believe all the above information should be routinely communicated to it and membership be truly ‘representative of the community’ and not influenced by service providers.

Finally, all Healthwatch meetings should be publicised and open to the public, with the Press invited to attend and appropriate representations of providers present.

Copies of the Council proposals re Healthwatch are available on request to Sarah Manfredi on (01422) 393183, at the Halifax Town Hall.

Dr Bob Heys

(Former Chair, Calderdale Patient and Public Involvement in Health Forum)